Botswana News
African carrier, fastjet, is looking at launching flights between Cape Town, South Africa, and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Richard Bodin, fastjet’s Chief Operating Officer, told Tourism Update the route was still in the early phases and flights would be launched in the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest, although a later date was foreseeable.

According to Bodin, the airline’s routes from Johannesburg to Zimbabwe continue to see growth, especially its flights to Victoria Falls. The airline flies a double-daily service to Harare and to Victoria Falls three times a week. It also services Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar in Tanzania.

However, Bodin pointed out that, despite strong passenger demand, a strong dollar has negatively affected the airline’s revenue. As a result, it had trimmed down frequencies on marginal routes and there would be little in the way of new routes until next year, said Bodin. He added that there were other destinations the airline was contemplating for new routes, but declined to give details on these.

Source: Tourism Update
Published in News
THE Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza) Uni-Visa between Zimbabwe and Zambia, which was suspended last year, is set to be re-introduced after the two neighbours agreed to revive it. The two Sadc countries are understood to be at an advanced stage of drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would lead the re-introduction of the “free trade” facility while offices of the Attorney Generals in the respective countries are working on the legal aspect of it.

This came out of a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in Victoria Falls on Tuesday to deliberate on challenges facing the tourism industry especially in the resort town. Chief Immigration Officer Clemence Masango said 50,000 stickers have already been sourced for the re-introduction of the Kaza Uni-Visa.

“The Uni-Visa was suspended in December 2015 because of two reasons whereby the two countries had run out of stickers and also after the expiry of the MoU. The two countries have been deliberating on whether to continue with the facility and mobilise funding for stickers,” said Masango.

He said stickers had already been dispatched to various centres where the facility should be implemented. “We are happy to report that we have managed to source 50,000 stickers and the only outstanding issue is the signing of MoU so that there is a legal standing to it.

“The two countries are addressing these issues at Cabinet level while Attorney General’s Office will advise on the developments,” added Masango. He said a similar process was underway in neighbouring Zambia.

The Uni-Visa was launched in 2014 after being mooted at the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) to ease movement between the two countries as a pilot projects towards a similar development in the Sadc region. The facility stopped last year owing to a number of reasons.

Meanwhile, the ZTA board led by its chairperson Chipo Mutasa, Ross Kennedy and ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke are on a fact finding mission in the resort town to hear concerns of the industry from operators.

Source: The Chronicle
Published in News
Tuesday, 21 June 2016 10:52

Air Zimbabwe set to resume London route

Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) plans to resume flights on the Harare-London route this year after a four-year hiatus, management has said.

AirZim acting passenger and cargo general manager Christopher Kwenda said the company had initially anticipated to resume plying the lucrative route beginning of July, but had to contend with a later date due to licensing delays after London and the European Union (EU) introduced new aviation licensing requirements.

“We had targeted the 1st of July, but now there are new requirements from the UK and the EU. We will know the exact dates as soon as we satisfy those requirements because we also have to start selling the route once we get the green light,” Kwenda said in a telephone interview.

AirZim acting CE Edmund Makona said the national flag carrier had already submitted all the necessary paperwork required by British authorities.

“The airline has submitted all the necessary paperwork for the route licence as is required by London authorities and is still waiting their approval to commence operations. Once the route licence has been issued, we will then advise the exact date for the flights resumption,” Makona said in emailed responses this week.

Air Zim was forced to terminate the route in 2012 and is now negotiating to clear a US$2, 8 million debt owed to London navigation agency.

Makona said all creditors were engaged and arrangements are in place to service any outstanding amounts. He said creditors have been forthcoming in terms of payment arrangements.

He said flight resumption would depend on whether the licence is been issued. “We will also give adequate lead time to allow for marketing activities,” he said.

“Operating equipment and the crew are already in place. Once the route licence has been issued, we will be ready to commence operations.”

Makona said the airline plans to employ a robust cost-cutting strategy with a view to avoid plunging into debt again.

AirZim in 2014 resumed flights on the Harare-Johannesburg route after the airline cleared its debts with some South African creditors.

Two weeks ago the airline re-introduced flights on the Harare-Dar es Salaam route after a seven year absence, flying return flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

The airline will be scrambling for market share with fastjet. AirZim is pinning hopes on the growing trade between Tanzania and Zimbabwe where many cross border traders and business travelers frequent the two destinations.

It is offering a generous free luggage promotion of 40kg per passenger and a free ticket for every six people travelling together on the new route.

Kwenda said the market was so far responding positively to the new route amid growth potential indications.
“The new route is picking up, the response is quite encouraging, it will take time to achieve the load factors that we would like to have, but it’s quite positive so far,” he said.
Published in News
African Sun and Legacy Hospitality have signed an agreement to co-operate in the development of tourism in Zimbabwe. The agreement provides for the management, refurbishment and expansion of five of African Sun’s strategic assets- The Kingdom at Victoria Falls, Elephant Hills Resort, Hwange Safari Lodge, The Monomatapa Hotel and Troutbeck Hotel.Refurbishments at the Victoria Falls properties are already underway, with future expansion to Caribbea Bay and Fothergill Island planned.

The addition of Elephant Hills Resort and The Kingdom at Victoria Falls to the Talking Stick portfolio has unfortunately created a conflict with our marketingof Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, part of Africa Albida Tourism (AAT). Therefore, effective May 1,Talking StickMarketing will no longer berepresenting AAT (Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and Ngoma Safari Lodge) in the United Kingdom and Europe.This is certainly sad news for us as we have enjoyed eight years working closely with the team at AAT and wish them much success in the years to come. 

Ross Kennedy, CEO of Africa Albida Tourism states, “Weat Africa Albida Tourism have enjoyed a wonderfully successful and professional relationship with Talking Stick Marketing over the last eight years. They have grown our UK and Europeanmarket share significantly and established our products firmly in those markets. We are sad to bid them farewell, but circumstances sometimes dictate such decisions. As we move on to a new era, we are pleased to announce a smooth and efficient transition will take place, with the appointment of Zoe Carroll as our new representative in the United Kingdom and Ireland (ZMTC@hotmail.com+44 161 7880348).  Marc and the Talking Stick team will liaise with Zoe and our team in Zimbabwe, to ensure as seamless a handover as possible.”

In addition to the two Victoria Falls properties, this agreement will grow the Legacy presence in Zimbabwe. The 100-room Hwange Safari Lodge will be completely upgraded on a phased basis into a 4-5 Star lodge at affordable prices, including a new waterhole. The Monomotapa Hotel Harare is planned to undergo a face-lift to all its 240 rooms, with the addition of a new outdoor pool area and additional restaurant facilities. At the famous Troutbeck Hotel, Legacy intends to retain its unique character and atmosphere, whilst expanding the leisure activities.

“The past months of negotiations as well as our constructive interaction with the Government, has convinced us that Zimbabwe is on the road to recovery.  Whilst rebuilding confidence in any market takes time, we believe all the ingredients are in place to fast track this process”, remarked Legacy Group Chairman Bart Dorenstein.


For more information on Legacy Hotels & Resorts please contact Marc Reading marc@talkingstickmktg.co.uk or visit www.talkingstickmktg.com









Published in News
2015 saw plenty of developments within the African Bush Camps portfolio: Somalisa underwent an extensive rebuild and upgrade, Kanga Camp too enjoyed a refurbishment, whilst ‘Kanga Under the Stars’ – our sleep-out experience – was launched.

As interest in Zimbabwe grows, we feel the right time to invite members of the UK trade to come and experience what makes African Bush Camps so special.
Come and learn our ABC!

African Bush Camps is a small and independently owned company run by one of Africa’s top Safari guides, Beks Ndlovu. One of the founding principles is that the guides and hosts are part of the guest experience and are key to making a safari memorable and extraordinary. Providing guests with an intimate and unique view of the ‘Old Untouched Africa’, African Bush Camps has made it their quest to share the wildest and remote parts of Africa in a responsible and sustainable manner, ensuring an authentic experience, whilst cultures and wildlife areas are conserved for future generations.
African Bush Camps has a portfolio of properties in key safari destinations within Zimbabwe and Botswana.

The Itinerary
11th May
Safari Logistics flight from Harare to Mana Pools National Park.
Overnight accommodation at Kanga Camp.
12th May
Overnight at “Kanga Under the Stars”, Mana Pools National Park
13th May
Safari Logistics flight from Mana Pools to Hwange National Park.
Spend a final night at Somalisa Camp
14th May
Transfer to Victoria Falls Airport.

The trip will coincide with Indaba 2016 and spaces are limited to just 6 tour operators. the cost is USD700 per person on a twin sharing basis.
Covers all accommodation, meals, activities, internal transfer arrangements, and park fees. International and regional flights are for own expense.

To register your interest please contact UK representative Kirstine Vercoe.
E: kirstine@kameric.com T: 01664 823 750 / 07830 867 887






Published in News
Somalisa Camp and Somalisa Acacia located in Hwange NP become some of the most sustainable camps in Zimbabwe being accredited the Green Tourism Gold Award and nominated for the We Are Africa “Design Africa” Award
 
African Bush Camps, through its camps Somalisa and Somalisa Acacia, is continually working towards more sustainable methods to reduce their carbon footprint and ensure the long term conservation of Africa’s wildlife and habitats. Green Tourism, the world’s largest and most established sustainable tourism certification program, recognised African Bush Camps Somalisa and Somalisa Acacia with the Green Tourism Gold award.
 
To achieve this prestigious accreditation, Somalisa and Somalisa Acacia were recently graded on-site by qualified and independent environmental assessors against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas such as energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity and social involvement and communication. Green Tourism has three grading levels (Bronze, Silver and Gold) awarded according to the assessments carried out. Achieving a Gold Certification Award means that Somalisa and Somalisa Acacia scored 80% and above and are recognised as “Outstanding / Inspirational” by the Green Tourism Team.
 
African Bush Camps is delighted with this award and they are committed to continuing to operate in accordance with recognised quality standards appropriate to both their customers’ needs and the long term well being and preservation of the areas in which they operate.
 
Somalisa and Somalisa Acacia were recently rebuilt ensuring that they are minimising their impact on the planet. We Are Africa Innovation Awards has recognised African Bush Camps environmental efforts nominating them for “Design Africa Awards”, the first time African Bush Camps has been short-listed for an award at this prestigious event.
 

ABOUT SOMALISA AND SOMALISA ACACIA:
Somalisa Camp
Somalisa Camp is set in the heart of Hwange National Park, known as the land of the giants for its large elephant herds. Nestled in a stunning location tucked away on an acacia island along the edge of an ancient seasonal flood plain, Somalisa provides guests with breathtaking views of the savannah plains across the famous Kennedy Vlei line. Recently re-built, Somalisa Camp has upgraded its level of accommodation to that of complete comfort and luxury whilst still maintaining its focus on the guiding and hosting of guests to ensure the ultimate guest experience.

 
Somalisa Acacia
Somalisa Acacia has recently under gone a complete rebuild and now comprises of 2 Family Units with inter-leading walkways between the parents and children’s rooms which are both en-suite, as well as 2 standard Sail Tents. Each tent includes gauze sliding doors, a wood-burner fireplace for the cold winter nights, and 
for the hot summer days, as well as en suite bathroom facilities including flush toilets, an indoor and outdoor shower, as well as a copper slipper-style bathtub. All the simple but luxurious tents are on slightly raised decks, under the dappled canopy of a grove of Acacias.

For futher information please contact:
Adele Cutler, Kameric PR

adele@kamageo.com  Tel: +44 (0)1664 823750   M: +44 (0) 7976 578988

Notes to the Editor
African Bush Camps website: 
www.africanbushcamps.com
Green Tourism website: www.green-tourism.com


Published in News
fastjet has announced it will commence flights to Victoria Falls from Johannesburg on March 25th, 2016, in response to strong passenger and tour operator demand from within the South African market.

Services between Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport and Victoria Falls International Airport will operate using fastjet’s modern Airbus A319 jet aircraft with seating for up to 156 passengers.

Initially operating twice a week on Fridays and Sundays, fastjet’s flights will depart Victoria Falls at 12:40 and land in Johannesburg at 14:15, with a flight time of one hour 35 minutes.

The return flight from Johannesburg departs at 14:55 and lands in Victoria Falls at 16:35.

“fastjet believes that affordable air travel is key to the continued growth of tourism between Zimbabwe and South Africa, with Victoria Falls being long established as a tourism drawcard to the region,” said Richard Bodin, fastjet chief commercial officer.

“Launching this route between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg makes it more affordable for South Africans to visit the area’s many sights and attractions.”

Bodin added: “Prior to announcing these flights to Victoria Falls, fastjet had detailed discussions with South African and Zimbabwean tour operators in order to deliver suitable flight components to include in packaged tour offerings.

“We will rely on continued support from the travel agents and tour operators due to the destinations’ strong tourism attractions.”

The new route between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg follows closely on the success of fastjet’s route launches between Harare and Victoria Falls, and its first international route from Harare to Johannesburg.

fastjet increased the frequency of its flights from Harare to Johannesburg just two weeks after the first flight took to the skies, and now connects the two cities 12 times each week.

Source: Breaking Travel News


Published in News
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 14:03

Chobe versus Hwange - exploring the pros and cons

Being a Zimbabwean myself and having grown up visiting places like Hwange regularly I tend to have a very strong allegiance to our own National Parks.  This you might say would render me not entirely objective in my ability to compare Chobe, Botswana with Hwange, Zimbabwe, two parks in similar proximity to Victoria Falls.  However, I did have the pleasure of co-managing (with my partner Suzanne) a large ground handling safari operation in the Chobe area for nearly two years in 2008 and 2009.  We were based in Kasane, had a fleet of 25 vehicles, 10 boats and 50+ staff underneath us and being the largest operation in the area we were intricately involved in Chobe’s safari and tourism industry.  And so, I believe as result of that experience, I am fairly well placed to give a balanced view of both parks.

Let me start by saying that both Chobe and Hwange are world renowned parks in their own right.  Between Chobe and Hwange the elephant density is said to be the largest in Africa with some estimates saying this could as high as 60,000 elephants.  In fact it is known that some elephants do indeed move between the parks crossing private safari or forestry areas that lie between them.  I am writing this article not so much to try and convince you the reader of which park is the ‘better’ one to visit.  I would prefer that the words stimulate your mind and help you make a decision that is best suited to your needs when you go on safari to this region.

Chobe National Park is approximately 1,5hrs drive west away from Victoria Falls.  It is probably Botswana’s second most popular safari destination after the Okavango Delta and covers an area of 11,700 square kilometres. To get there one can take a transfer bus from your hotel in Livingstone, Zambia or Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.  Going from Zambia means that you need to get on a boat to cross the Zambezi, where four countries meet (one of only two places in the world where this occurs) i.e. Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia (the eastern most tip of the Caprivi strip).  Travelling from Zimbabwe means a land crossing at the Zimbabwe/Botswana border in Kazungula.  Both routes lead you to Kasane town (just outside Chobe NP) where there are numerous hotels and lodges.  There is only one lodge in Chobe National Park itself.  There are a number of safari companies based in Kasane that offer game drives and river cruises into Chobe.  Practically all of these operators concentrate their game drives or boat cruises along a 20km stretch of the north eastern part of the park that borders with the Chobe river and Namibia.  As there are no significant waterholes inland you find that the game concentrates in this area due to the life giving waters of the river.  The frequency and variety of good game sightings here is phenomenal and what makes a visit to Chobe so attractive.  The downside is that all the vehicles and boats are concentrating in this relatively small area, so chances are that you will share your sightings with quite a few other people.  Kasane operators have mainly capitalised, over the years, on the day trip market from Victoria Falls and Livingstone.  Whilst there are various accommodation options the bulk of travellers come into Chobe for a 2,5-3hr game drive in the morning , followed by lunch at one of the hotels and then a 2,5-3hr boat cruise in the afternoon before heading back across the border again.  This makes the experience somewhat mass market oriented and the quality of guiding can be affected as a result.  Walking is also a distinct rarity in Chobe.

Hwange National Park is approximately 1,5hrs drive south away from Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe.   It is one of Zimbabwe’s premier safari areas and covers an area in excess of 14,600 square kilometres.  To get there one can take a transfer bus from Victoria Falls to Hwange Main Camp on wide tar roads.  At Hwange Main camp most people are then collected in a 4×4 game drive vehicle from the lodge or camp that they are going to stay at in the park.  At the moment there are still only a few people that do a day trip to Hwange and tour operators prefer to build this park into a package with at least two nights (preferably three) spent here.  Hwange does not have any major rivers running through or bordering the park.  To compensate for this the park has a number of man made waterholes that are pumped with borehole water using a combination of diesel, solar and wind pumps.  The diesel pumps do make a knocking noise that can detract from the peaceful surroundings a little.  The beauty though of having scattered waterholes all over the park plus a wide road network means that traffic in the park is well dispersed over a very large area.  Most camps and lodges are also located on their own private concessions meaning that when you stay at them you are unlikely to see many people other than those in camp.  Game drives do sometimes go over the borders of the concessions into public parts of the park, but as mentioned above the scattered waterholes and wide route network manages traffic well.  Zimbabwe is renowned for its excellent guiding (it takes at least 4 years to become a professional) and Hwange is no exception.  Each camp or lodge typically has at least one professional guide in residence.  Learner guides are also very knowledgeable and eligible to take game drives.  Aside from game drives the opportunity to walk in Hwange is something not to be missed.

So in closing let’s look at the main pros and cons from each park again:

CHOBE

Pros

  • Easily reachable from Victoria Falls
  • Offers both a water based and land based safari experience
  • Conveniently set up to cater for day trippers
  • Excellent wildlife sightings even for day trippers, with excellent chances of seeing big game, including elephant, cheetah, lion and leopard
  • Those that are able to stay in Chobe for longer than a day may be rewarded in that their game drives and boat cruises may be less congested as they are in the park at a different time to the day trippers.
Cons

  • Limited route network for game drives
  • Game drives and boat cruises are operated in a small area of the park
  • Somewhat mass market safari tourism
  • Guiding abilities may not be as good as elsewhere in southern Africa
  • Only one lodge located in the park itself
HWANGE

Pros

  • Excellent road route network that manages traffic well
  • Well positioned waterholes that have excellent game viewing
  • A variety of fantastic camps and lodges catering for all budgets
  • Excellent learner and professional guides that ensure a memorable and personal safari experience.
  • Superb opportunities to walk in the park with a professional guide
Cons

  • Diesel pumps at some waterholes can hinder the peace
  • Not ideally geared for day trippers from Victoria Falls
  • Limited to a land based safari experience only
  • A day trip to Hwange may not yield as high a number of big game sightings
For more updates from Vayeni:

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